Clarence Thomas Asked His First Question On The Supreme Court In A Decade


Finally, after a decade of remaining silent while sitting on the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas asked several questions and perhaps he really shouldn’t have.

On Monday, arguments were presented about a ban on gun ownership for domestic-violence offenders. One of the men who took the case to the Supreme Court is a repeat offender and in 2009, he shot and killed a bald eagle.

The case, Voisine v. United States arrived at the Supreme Court but not initially as a Second Amendment case, but Thomas is a staunch gun rights supporter.

The Huffington Post reports:

“Can you give me an area [of law] where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right,” Thomas asked of the federal government’s lawyer, who was arguing that a federal ban on gun ownership for certain persons who are convicted of domestic violence offenses at the state level should apply if the offense was committed “recklessly.

Thomas was described as speaking up “in his booming baritone” to ask a lengthy list of questions about the issue.

Thomas asked “how long” the suspension of Second Amendment rights was for persons prohibited under federal law to possess firearms.

Thomas did not ask about the women the two men had abused apparently. Poor impulse control should be a factor here.

“Let’s say that a publisher is reckless about the use of children … in indecent displays,” he said, and wondered if the government then could suspend that publisher’s right of free press permanently. The First Amendment just knocked heads with the Second Amendment in order to support gun rights. A person has never been killed by words, but bullets sure pack a punch.

Slate reports:

At that point, Justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer jumped in to help Eisenstein. (Kennedy joined Heller but isn’t a Second Amendment absolutist like Thomas; Breyer dissented from Heller.) Kennedy mentioned laws that indefinitely regulate sex offenders’ liberty, though it was a weak example, because those laws do not suspend any fundamental rights absolutely and indefinitely. Breyer veered away from Thomas’ question, noting that Voisine wasn’t directly arguing that the federal law violated his Second Amendment rights. (He had argued that earlier, actually, but the Supreme Court refused to consider that question when it agreed to hear the case.) Instead, Voisine pushed the doctrine of “constitutional avoidance”—essentially arguing that the federal law might infringe upon his right to bear arms, and so the court should rule for him on other grounds to avoid having to decide that vastly more monumental question.

It must be difficult for Thomas to speak without Antonin Scalia pulling his strings.

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Quote by Abraham Lincoln.

Image: Donkey Hotey via Flickr.

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